Scottish EU Bill likely to be introduced next month

The Scottish government has begun preparations to introduce an EU Continuity Bill to prepare Scotland’s laws for Brexit after UK government legislation was described as being “incompatible with the devolution settlement” by a cross-party Holyrood committee.

The Scottish government has an obligation to prepare for the eventuality that the Scottish Parliament will not give legislative consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill.

In a joint letter from Brexit minister Michael Russell and parliamentary business minister Joe Fitzpatrick to Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh they explain that the Scottish government is developing a Continuity Bill for Scotland and, if necessary, will introduce it at Holyrood in February.

The letter states: “The purpose of introducing the Bill is to ensure that Scotland’s laws can be prepared for the effects of EU withdrawal even if it does not prove possible to rely on the UK Bill. It does not mean that we have definitely resolved to reject the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.”

It adds: “But unless and until the necessary changes to the bill are made, the Scottish Government must provide for an alternative so that on any scenario there is a legislative framework in place for protecting Scotland’s system of laws from the disruption of UK withdrawal from the EU.”